Chinese Breakdown (Key of D)

This is an online fiddle lesson for the tune "Chinese Breakdown." BluegrassDaddy.com is your best source for Bluegrass, Old Time, Celtic, Gospel, and Country fiddle lessons!

Genre: Bluegrass, Old Time
Skill Level: Intermediate (unless you count the trick fiddling)
Key of D

You may download and use any of the MP3s and tablature for your personal use. However, please do not make them available online or otherwise distribute them.

Video #1:  This is a video from our summer of trick fiddling - try it at the risk of yourself and your fiddle...

This is an online fiddle lesson for the tune "Chinese Breakdown." BluegrassDaddy.com is your best source for Bluegrass, Old-Time, Celtic, Gospel, and Country fiddle lessons!
This is an online fiddle lesson for the tune "Chinese Breakdown." BluegrassDaddy.com is your best source for Bluegrass, Old-Time, Celtic, Gospel, and Country fiddle lessons!

This song is also known as “Chinese Rag,” “Beaver Valley Breakdown,” "Georgia Bust‑Down," "Georgia Breakdown,” and “Tiger Rag." The origins of this tune are unclear, although it is widespread from the South to Midwest, the American North and Canada and even to England and Scotland. “Chinese Breakdown” was first recorded by the “Dixie String Band” in 1925, followed a recording in Atlanta in 1927 by the Scottdale String Band, a group named in honor of the mill village of Scottdale, near Atlanta. It is possible that the tune was composed by Fred Roe of the Walker Mt. String Band (Joel Shimberg). “Chinese Breakdown” was recorded from Ozark Mountain fiddlers by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph for the Library of Congress in the early 1940's.
Reference: Ibiblio

This version was inspired by the group Leahy, and is taught by my daughter who garnered it from their Live from Gatineau Quebec DVD, under the title "Novelty Act." It is a huge hit at Fiddle Camp, when all the kids play it "freestyle." Learn this fun tune, then get creative with the way you hold the fiddle!

Posted in Bluegrass, Intermediate, OldTime Tagged with: , ,

Best Online Fiddle Lessons Forums Chinese Breakdown (Key of D)

This topic contains 19 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by cricket cricket 5 months ago.

Viewing 20 posts - 1 through 20 (of 20 total)
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  • #7087

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    Here’s one that Arwen helped me with: The Chinese Breakdown!

    https://bluegrassdaddy.com/chinese-breakdown-fiddle-lesson/

    • This topic was modified 47 years ago by .
    #10787

    ice1272
    Member

    John,
    The Chinese Breakdown.” video was awesome I couldnt help but get a real kick out of that !LOL What a way to start a sunday morning, “You are my vision” then Chinese Breakdown.” Wow !

    Ice

    • This reply was modified 47 years ago by .
    #10788
    Justine
    Justine
    Participant

    Chinese Breakdown is a lot of fun! It’s hard to pick out the scene I like the most
    although one-legged stand on the fence post stands out!

    #10794
    Justine
    Justine
    Participant

    I also enjoyed the children playing so well…like the octopus!

    #10796
    Rock
    Rock
    Participant

    John, hilarious! 🙂

    You really need, for you and all, to just loosen up a little bit.
    Have a little fun with it, you seem a little tense.

    I’m so glad I watched that early because I really need some sleep tonight.
    Unlike last night after all the funnies!!

    #50346
    ruckydoo
    ruckydoo
    Participant

    Wish that I could have started your lessons at age 5 or so  but am 72 years late.  This is so enjoyable that I almost feel guilt for having demanded total silence and no interruptions during my practice.   You folks all appear to love it!

    I’m changing my ways right now!  From now on there will be a cat sitting on my shoulder and pooch drooling on my slippers while little bride chases bats around the room with a broom  while I’m playing something really complicated.

    SEE HOW YOU INSPIRE ME!

    #50361
    ruckydoo
    ruckydoo
    Participant

    Within hours of my making the remark about Little Bride chasing bats with a broom in the comment above, a bat entered out guest room last night and terrorized our daughter and grandkids visiting  from Texas.   Never happened before in this house so my dumb remark must have been the cause.  I like bats but am  in the minority in this house  but my son-in-law bopped it with badminton racket (sp) and let it fly off.

    #50413

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    We have bats here too! They live up in the ridge vent. They’re kind of cute!

    #50463
    nagumaq
    nagumaq
    Participant

    Oh I don’t know how to say that s got to be the best fiddle film ever ! Lol crack me up rolling on the ground , I got to get some of those tricks down ! Yeehaw John , and I like the song too 😀 , sounds like a classic square dance , wonder why they call it Chinese ?

    What a great short movie , I got to send it to my Tibetan friend Norbu , he ´s going to love it maybe even make him want to star learning the violin 😀

     

    #50470
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    I remember seeing this a long time ago…really cool…entertaining and pretty amazing.  John, I’m very impressed with the swing set sit-ups…and the good rope jumping…the kids were just great too…like a big circus act.  You guys are just amazing!

    #50472
    Justine
    Justine
    Participant

    I watch this video whenever I am discouraged about my fiddle playing!

    I agree with Peggy about the rope jumping.

    Be careful what you wish for, Ruckydoo!

    #50473
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    Whenever we’ve gotten a bat or bird in the house, we close shades, or turn off the lights, keep ne door open with light coming through, or for bats, keep light on there…outside light or a light just by the door…prop open the door and stay out of the way…the bat or bird will find its way out in a couple of minutes without going through all the struggles, injuries, etc.  The worst thing for us was baby birds would fall down our flue and into the wood stove…fortunately it was during warm weather so there was no fire in there…but, I’d get home from work, see the cats going nuts…have to lock them away somewhere, close up the window light with blankets ( we had no shades on the windows), open the door, then open up the wood stove door…the poor birds were panicked and didn’t know much yet so I usually had a little nudging to get them to see the light, so to speak, and get going with their little young bird lives.  Our one and only, famous movie theater, owned and run by the town mayor, always had bats diving around in there…lol…we all were pretty good at sitting there ducking the bats with our bags of buttered popcorn…that building is still there…some people are trying to raise the hundreds of thousands it’ll take to refurbish the old theater to turn it into a community meeting place for arts, lectures, meetings, etc.  Not many people left down there, but some with the right political connections are working hard to get things like that going.  It’s a ghost town by this point…nothing there but the county jail, courthouse and super  Walmart…buncha deserted, dilapidated buildings going down the hill toward the river…I guess if they get the old theater usable again maybe it’ll help that old town come back to life.  I always dreamed if I could be the mayor, or somebody important, I woulda stopped traffic up by the interstate exit, had people transfer from that point to horses and buggies, go through the town as it used to be,..whittlers sitting in front of the courthouse, telling wild stories, people hanging around singing and playing…shops with people carving, weaving, quilting, honeysuckle vine baskets, selling homemade stuff of all kinds…I mean, I saw it dying and thought…save this thing…it’s right on the interstate…pay people to be who they are, what they do…what they learned from their grandparents…pay them to be that, to preserve that…get tourists to see how life was in the quietness of our foothills…be paid for what you really do well…but…well I was never up in society enough…so it was only stuff like coal mines, etc., and now it’s all just dead.  I’m one of the many who had to leave…but I still have a little of that dream.  I’m not off topic, am I?   Oh gosh, I’ve got so much work to do…but…I was forcing out a couple of hours to get my cruciferous veggies on a butterfly egg-picking schedule…anyway, I’m trying something different because I just don’t have time to keep up with the butterflies!  I hit myself some tulle…never heard of the stuff, but it wasn’t too expensive on Amazon…cut it up and surround those cruciferous veggies with it by closing the seams with plastic clothes pins…so far, so good…I’d tried row cover years before…don’t like it…doesn’t let in light, pools up the rain, rips up easily…can’t see the veggies, etc.  I tried some old window screen…no good either…this stuff might work…I hope.  Busy with everybody always needing help again…I was thinking the other day…I gotta play me some music before I flatout lose my mind!  What were we talking about??? Guess I mighta drifted off topic a little bit!  Oops…

    #50474
    ruckydoo
    ruckydoo
    Participant

    Bats seem to be a topic that many can comment on with strange experiences with those poor little rodents.  An elderly lady had her house re-insulated on some gov’t program and was chasing bats all night and bagged 17 of them by morning.   Maybe I’d think less of them if that were to occur in my home.

    Had one join me in  our above ground swimming pool last summer when I threw in a large mat that we’d had standing next to the pool and a bat had slipped into the folds for a good days sleep.     My ten year old grandson was with me and yelled something about a bird in the water with us and his eyes almost popped out of his head when I retrieved it with a pool net.

    We spent hours trying to keep it alive ( no artificial respiration or mouth to mouth was used however)  and he must have survived as he had disappeared by the next morning.    Cats don’t seem too fond of bats so…?

    Finally got my viola strung as a fiddle and love the sound but the reach for the strings is still a challenge so may go to the “don’t fret” thinking and  mark the note locations.  Just took the reminders off of my violin in the past month but violas are somewhat different.

    Have upped my fiddle/viola practice sessions to an hour a day at least and progress may be expected…I hope.   Still slow and sloppy but I’m having a great time with it.

    #50475
    rodger
    rodger
    Participant

    We had a duck in our fireplace chimney…opened the damper & it came down & out flying & never touched the ground…(Cricket, did you type out all those words on a phone without a keyboard?  I’d still be punching at the little alphabet letters)

    • This reply was modified 5 months ago by rodger rodger.
    #50486
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    Yeah…lol…I’m on the mini iPad, always,..a lot bigger than a phone, but it’s still a challenge to type all that kinda stuff.  The iPad keypad does not recognize any of my left fingers because of music callouses, so it’s pretty much all right-handed tapping it out with one finger.  I’m used to it, though…I did a whole opera with one finger, you know…lol…seriously, I did that.  Well the bats are well appreciated but honestly I don’t want them around me inside…I’ve heard enough stories of them carrying rabies and either biting so shallow a person might not realize, or else managing to spray enough saliva airborne to infect somebody contained in close quarters.  Yes, I’m freaked out by rabies…so if. See a bat, I’m like…make it dark and open up the bright door.  I do check stuff that’s been sitting before sticking my hands in it…not really checking for bats, especially, but spiders, wasps ( which I’m allergic too and seems they like to hide in stuff you might get into), snakes…yeah, I guess bats too.  Anything…I shake my shoes before I put them on too…I guess you could call me paranoid…lol.  One of our neighbors’ husband who had been the Whitley county sheriff and vet died of rabies…before my time…he was bitten by a cow out on a veterinary call…I knew the neighbor in later years and she talked about how horrible it was all the time when we’d put our apples by, etc., …scary.

    • This reply was modified 5 months ago by cricket cricket.
    #50491

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    Wow. Just when you think you are safe from bats, snakes, spiders, sharks, and hippos… a COW bites you. Fate is a fickle thing.

    Gu, I don’t know why it’s called the Chinese Breakdown. Maybe it has some Chinese roots!

    #50493

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    Ralph, that’s a lot of practice! I know it is paying off. One good thing about the viola; after playing it, the notes on the fiddle seem a lot easier to reach.

    Rodger, I’d like to have seen that duck come out of the fireplace. 🙂

    #50501
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    I always wanted a viola…I never thought about the different stretch it would give you to play it…hmmm…did I steer back on topic???? Me??? Yeah, watch out for biting cows…kinda makes you think you oughta just get a goat…well…they have teeth too.  Our goat, Badger, gave a pretty decent bite to the grandson, Roro, once, but Badger’s mommy treated Roro like a “kid” of her own.  Wonder why on earth they do call it Chinese??? The Breakdown, I mean?

    #50556

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    I think the original voicing of the tune probably included some pentatonic harmonies, particularly the last line of the A and B parts.

    #50563
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    I kept wanting my old BG band to try it with me and they always said they didn’t wanna get into Chinese music…lol…finally I showed it to them.

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